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Published: 2024-04-02

Nominate a new Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University

NEWS Umeå University is now initiating the recruitment of a new vice-chancellor who will lead the University after 1 July 2025. Anna Ekström, who is chair of the Umeå University Board, leads the Recruitment Committee and presents what qualities the Board is looking for in a new vice-chancellor and encourages everyone to nominate new candidates.

In addition to the candidate being able to combine inspiring and strategic academic leadership with the role as head of a public authority, there are also high demands on collaboration skills, which Anna Ekström considers particularly important for Umeå University.

“Access to talent and skills in northern Sweden is a shared responsibility. The University plays a crucial role in attracting more individuals to northern Sweden and, importantly, encouraging them to stay. Rather than competing, we should collaborate – primarily with Luleå University of Technology and Mid Sweden University, but also with civil society, businesses, and the public sector.”

Anna Ekström also emphasises that building communities requires more than just engineers, a point that may not always be evident in discussions about talent acquisition in northern Sweden. Umeå University also educates teachers, nurses, architects, vocational teachers, and various other professionals needed for the ongoing societal transformation in northern Sweden.

Umeå University’s unique role as a comprehensive university in northern Sweden also influences the Board’s discussions on the desired profile.

“Our strengths and challenges lie in recruiting students, and we must preserve our breadth and our role as a university where interactions extend beyond like-minded individuals. The true essence of a university lies in the utility and joy derived from engaging and collaborating with people from diverse educational backgrounds. Otherwise, one might as well work in a co-working space,” says Anna Ekström.

Teachers, students and staff also contribute

Anna Ekström draws from her experiences in recruiting three vice-chancellors for Uppsala University and Linköping University in the past. From those processes, she emphasises the importance of the Consultative Assembly, which comprises 45 teachers, 22 students, 22 other staff members, and union representatives. Chair of the Consultative Assembly is Professor Richard Bindler.

“People outside the higher education sector and from the business world are often surprised by the extensive internal consultation and discussions. However, after participating, they find them to be quite beneficial. The University is not a typical company or public authority; it’s an academic community. Teachers, students, researchers, and other staff members who participate in the Consultative Assembly truly represent all aspects of the University. The lengthy recruitment process is time well spent,” says Anna Ekström.

The University Board has appointed a recruitment committee, which, under the leadership of chairperson Anna Ekström, has operational responsibility for the process. The Recruitment Committee consists of:

  • Anna Ekström, Chair of the University Board 
  • Eva Malmström Jonsson, Professor
  • Sverker Sörlin, Professor
  • Görel Granström, Docent
  • William Nordberg, student, Umeå Student Union of Science and Technology
  • Peter Lindström, Associate Professor, representative of the trade unions

You can read about the process all the way up to when the Swedish government finally makes the decision on the page Recruitment of a new vice-chancellor of Umeå University.

Academic freedom – a current and important issue

Another aspect that stands out somewhat in the job profile is its emphasis on academic freedom.

“We find ourselves in a time when we see restrictions on academic freedom in our surroundings, such as in Hungary, but it’s genuinely an important issue regardless of the direction in which society develops. It’s crucial that we have a vice-chancellor who can stand up for academic freedom and defend the University’s role in society,” emphasises Anna Ekström.

“Umeå University also plays a significant role as one of the major Arctic universities. This encompasses research related to climate and societal transformation, as well as the evolving security policy landscape where Umeå University holds a crucial position. This responsibility is likely to grow in the coming years due to the NATO membership, the transition to fossil-free energy, and the escalating climate challenges.”

A city with love for associations

Anna Ekström has always associated Umeå with a city and region known for its rich club and association activities. She points out that Umeå University’s purpose extends beyond merely educating for work.

“The University aims to also collaborate with the vibrant cultural sphere and associations. I had this approach even before I joined Umeå University. It’s a uniqueness that significantly contributes to progress in Umeå and Västerbotten. Umeå University is not solely a supplier of workforce; it’s an integral part of society, contributing to an educated and enlightened population. This has always been a strength of Umeå University, and we intend to preserve and strengthen it under our new vice-chancellor.”

Submit nominations before 7 May

Anna Ekström encourages everyone interested in Umeå University’s future to suggest excellent candidates for the vice-chancellor position. In April, the internal nomination process begins, and 7 May is the deadline for nominating candidates. 31 May is the final day to submit applications.

“While the Board is undoubtedly aware of many strong candidates, it’s essential that everyone at Umeå University – both students and staff – feel empowered to nominate and propose candidates. We genuinely value openness in this process. Submitting nominations is crucial; it’s your chance to influence, so seize the opportunity!”